“My most valuable asset is my house. I am married out of community of property and my wife and I have two children. I am leaving on a business trip soon and I just can’t find the time to consult with an attorney in order to have a Last Will and Testament drawn up. What will happen with my assets, most importantly my house, if I die without a Last Will and Testament?”
Your assets will, contrary to general belief, not go to the state. The Intestate Succession Act determines how the estate of a person who died without a valid Last Will and Testament has to be divided. The surviving spouse of the deceased inherits the first R250,000 or a child’s share of the estate, whichever is the greater.
A child’s share is calculated by dividing the value of the estate by the number of children of the deceased plus one (the spouse).
If your house is worth more than R250,000 problems might arise as your spouse and your children will inherit your property jointly. Co-ownership of a property by a number of family members, some of whom might still be minors, can be impractical and may give rise to costly delays and disagreements.
Example 1: The value of an intestate estate is R600,000. The deceased is survived by a spouse and 2 children. A child's share amounts to R200,000 (R600,000 divided by 3 (2 children plus the spouse)). The child's share is less than R250,000. Therefore the spouse will inherit R250,000 and each child will inherit R175,000 (R600,000 less R250,000 to the spouse, divided by 2).
Example 2: The value of an intestate estate is R1,200,000. The deceased is survived by a spouse and 2 children. A child's share amounts to R400,000 (R1,200,000 divided by 3 (2 children plus the spouse)). The child's share is greater than R250,000. Therefore the spouse will inherit R400,000 and each child will also inherit R400,000 (R1,200,000 less R400,000 to the spouse, divided by 2).
Prevention is much better than cure and that applies not only in health but also in estate planning.
In order to avoid complications and to ensure that your most valuable asset is protected, you should have a Last Will and Testament drawn up as soon as possible.